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Some HDRs from Berlin, Potsdamer Platz

Discussion in 'Night, InfraRed, and UltraViolet Photography' started by DanielD, Jul 1, 2007.

  1. Some days ago I thought this would give a nice scenery at dawn, and as the sky was clear last evening, I took the opportunity to take these shots:






    Hope you like them :smile:
  2. BassGod

    BassGod Guest

    Beautifully executed without going over the top with the HDR. Would you share with us, did you use PhotoMatix or Photoshop CS2? CS3? What exposure compensation did you use and how many photos did you use to create the HDR? I like HDR when it's not too much. Just enough is just enough and these are perfect.

    Hope that's not asking too much. Thanks for your time.
  3. Wow! I'm impressed (and that isn't an easy thing to do).

    I'd love to see the first two with some perspective correction, just to see if they look even better.

    As squiggle-J said, you've nailed the HDR without going over the top, very natural looking.

    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 10, 2007
  4. Thanks, glad you like them.
    It is my aim to use HDR techniques to just expand the dynamic range while conserving the natural look as best as possible, so I happy that you think I succeeded in that.

    As I'm using Linux mostly and Adobe doesn't offer Photoshop for Linux (luckily, as I don't have to agonize about whether I am willing to play such a HUGE amount of money for it :wink:) , I'm mainly using GIMP for my post processing, including blending multiple exposures using layer masks.

    So this is done 'by hand'. :smile:

    Since the dynamic range of our sensor isn't THAT small and since I intended to blend multiple exposures, I used the exposure bracketing mode using a 2 stop difference between the exposures.

    I try to use as few exposures as possible for blending because blending many exposures using layer masks becomes a real mess and also increases the danger of getting very low contrast in the midtones.

    So what I do is taking the "main" exposure (that without exposure compensation) and look where details are lost in blown highlights or shadows that I want to restore. Then I look which of my other exposures I need which have that detail. In the above shots I believe there was at least one case where the difference was 4 stops.

    In the optimal case I only need one additional exposure of the set (mostly one to restore highlight detail), which I then add as an additional layer. The magic then is to create an appropriate mask for that layer, which I usually create by using a B/W version of one of the layers. I usually adjust the mask by using levels/curve to only allow the tonal range needed, blur it a little and that's it most of the time. If I think the result is too much I adjust the opacity of the new layer "by taste" to get a nice balance between restored highlights and a pleasing overall look.

    In the end, if I think the contrast suffered from blending, I add a little contrast.

    Et voilà.
  5. Regarding the perspective correction: Haven't tried to do that. My fear is that by stretching the image I loose more image resolution (detail) than I would like. :rolleyes: 
  6. BassGod

    BassGod Guest

    I suppose taking one image in RAW and adjusting the RAW image data for different exposures could work to use them during layering?

    I love the idea of taking the time to do all this by hand but who are we kidding? It would take me longer to get PhotoMatix and/or Photoshop to give me the desired result than it would to take the "long way around".

    Love what you're doing with it.
  7. You could take a single RAW exposure, make two different "exposures" from it and blend them, but I woudln't recommend that as the dynamic range increase is quite little compared to up to a 4eV step.

    Second, by using curves & levels you should be able to achieve the same or similar result right in the RAW processor, so I don't see the benefit here. To achieve results similar to mine in a similar scene you definitely need a set of different exposures.
  8. BassGod

    BassGod Guest

    Thanks for the advice. I was thinking that some shots I take could be hand-held and taken in RAW and using those as different exposure values for the end result. Benefit being ... You could include things in motion and not worry about bumping your camera while making adjustments for each shot. Lining them up could get tricky. It has for me. At least that's the idea.

    I see your point. I could bracket my shots and use a remote but that still isn't enough difference between exposures is it?

    Can't wait to give this method of shooting a fair shot. I appreciate you taking the time to explain.
  9. I usually use the bracketing mode as well, so whether it is enough depends on the number of exposures and the eV difference between each, and the current scene of course. I usually take a series of 5 with 2 eV difference.

    The reason why I'm using the bracketing mode for that kind of shots is that I can combine this with continuous shutter release to take a rapid burst of exposures. Thereby I try to include "things in motion" while minimizing their motion.

    It also allows you to take a series with a single shutter release (then holding down for the rest of the series) and I even did some hand-held that way.
    Of course you have some trouble afterwards in aligning the exposures, because most of the time they are rotated and the trick is to find the center of the rotation. It may not hold up critical inspection, but resized they can look quite well, like this one:


    This was combined of three exposures, hand-held, using exposure bracketing mode and continuous shutter release. I usually take a tripod with me if I intend to do that and know the scenery before, but in this case I noticed that I didn't had enough dynamic range for roof/train+plaform/basement and therefore gave it a try hand-held.

    And btw. that's exactly the edges at which I blended the three exposures.

    So if you have enough room on your memory card, just try to hold the camera stable, press the release gently and take a burst of exposures. It's free. :smile:
    If you didn't hold it stable enough to align the exposures afterwards, you still have the single one's and you have tried at least.
    If you succeed you come home with some nice exposure series to play with.

    If you can imagine the scenery before and intend to blend exposures, as I did with my Postdamer Platz photos, I recommend a tripod though. :biggrin:

    Oh, and of course, that hand holding of me only works in reasonable light (and with no guarantee of success), so I still need a tripod in dim light even for single exposures, just in case you may have thought I would have tripod arms. Sorry, no, I don't. :wink:
  10. All I can say is WOW! The color and detail is excellant.
  11. BassGod

    BassGod Guest

    That's an excellent example of the shooting situations I would end up in. I will keep the burst method in mind. I usually carry a monopod with me and use a tree or post to help steady myself. I've done this with my Infrared images quite a bit so I can be as mobile as possible, shoot on the fly and still come up with reasonably sharp images.

    I'll post results perhaps after this weekend.
  12. Daniel, you've done an excellent job on these without going over the top. I'm impressed by the fact that you took the time to do these 'by hand' rather than by way of a plugin or programme. On that last one, handheld?? Now I'm very impressed!
  13. Thanks Sandi.
    Don't be too impressed, aligning these afterwards can be quite a mess because one has to find out the spot about which to rotate.
    But in that case it was worth the hassle as the gain in dynamic range was very big.

    Mmh... this brings me to the idea to try it with a stitcher application at the next opportunity, as they allow (or do it automatically) to mark spots on a set of images which are to be aligned. Might be the ideal tool for handheld HDRs...
  14. BassGod

    BassGod Guest

    What's that one .. PTGUI or something like that? You could look into that. I'm pretty sure they have one of those limited time trial downloads.
  15. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    Well I guess everyone has covered everything..

    Beautiful images and work.
    Thank you for the great explanations.

    Folks just don't realize what a great program GIMP really is.
    They all have a learning curve.
    GIMP has come a longggggg way
  16. Excellent job with these images. You should feel justly proud of them.
  17. BassGod

    BassGod Guest

    Yes everything is covered well here ... and if I may comment that this particular thread is even more helpful in this section of the Cafe because night shots are helped out a great deal using these methods of capture. The Cafe is often a great learning tool by way of it's contributing members.

    Thank you for that.
  18. These are all great. I've just started using Photomatrix (so I guess I am "cheating"). Originally I was overdoing the HDR effects and thought I liked it. For some pictures it works. However, I find myself using the HDR image as adjustment layers for the original. The results are a bit more realistic. Your images, IMO, are a perfect example of how HDR can make an image "pop". Great job!
  19. Thanks, Rich. Keep trying! :smile:
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